“Labor of Love”!

Labor of Love

Happy Friday, All!

Yes, in fact …. T.G.I.F.!

Here’s to hoping that your weeks went well … well enough that you are able to enjoy a Labor Day Weekend ahead! All I know is that I will be welcoming it with open arms! No big serious plans or anything, just planning to enjoy myself.

Today’s topic is one that I often think about, then again … I seldom think about it. What could that mean? Well, in essence, we all know how hard jobs are to come by nowadays. Keeping a position is often like using martial arts to maintain that flow of income that allows you to ” … keep a roof over your head …”, and, as my sweet little old mother used to tell me when she observed me NOT appreciating our humble dwelling in “The Projects”: “Boy! You ain’t got a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of!” Dig that!!! Those parents of mine really showed me how to love myself. In this world, there are people who have “things” and don’t appreciate those things nor the situations that allowed them to get those “things”! Then, when those things disappear, we see a crushed soul, looking either to destroy others happiness or … ultimately, destroy themselves.

Do you think the POTUS loves his job? I am sure we could fill several auditoriums with words that people use to describe him, and things that people complain about him … day in and day out! Funny thing is, do those same people perform “perfectly” on their jobs?! Have any of those individuals ever not been so popular with a decision they made or some words they choose? How do you think they handled it? How do YOU handle it? This week saw the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, DC with an incredible program. Several “Republican” leaders were invited to speak at the celebration, but, they ALL declined!!! Does that tell you anything about these people who claim to represent populations in their own districts, localities and states? Can they ALL be against “jobs and justice”? Can they ALL actually not find one thing about Dr. King that would encourage them to take the podium and say some kind words about a man whose underwear they could never fill?!? It really makes me want to say, “WT@”?

“What the hell!”, they probably said. “We’ll blame our feelings on the POTUS Obama, too!”

Karma has a unique way of finding you … even when the justice department can not. Mrs. Zimmerman is now saying that her marriage is hurting. She realizes now that she wants to have a baby … and her husband just killed someone else’s child. She is showing remorse for that action while others still cling to their ignorance thinking and saying that Trayvon was a thug who deserved to die at the hands of “judge, jury and executioner” vigilante self appointed neighborhood watchperson, George Zimmerman! I mean, that stuff doesn’t even sound right … how can some people actually believe it?!? Mrs. Zimmerman also said, after taking a plea for the charge of lying for her husband in court (though by phone) that they had no monies in their savings when the judge was concerned with them fleeing to escape George’s prosecution, I believe they sentenced her to a year of probation, she was NOT at their home the night Trayvon got shot and killed by her husband. She was staying at her father’s place because she and George were having a “domestic dispute” that continued … even up until now! She said that they have been living like scared gypsies, in and out of trailer parks and homes, disguised and with the utmost concern and fear for their lives!!! Karma is just beginning to tap on their door … believe it … or not!

Choose a labor of love folks, as I have chosen with my writing … and my life! Obviously, it doesn’t pay me well. But I am happy to be doing it. Did you notice Obama’s face during his speech Wednesday? How about Jamie Foxx? Oprah? Mr. Lewis? The woman who sang, “Amazing Grace”? Did they love what they were doing? Well, I am starting to get emotional all over again so I am going to end this e-mail and message by wishing you ALL a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

50 More Years of Dr. King’s Dream

I have a dreamHappy Hump Day, All!

Yes, it is mid-week, but more importantly, it is the anniversary … the 50th to be exact … of The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream!” speech. Now before getting more involved in this topic, I wanted to make a correction in the contents of my previous e-mail and blog post.

In that e-mail from Monday, I mentioned that Congressional members’ kids didn’t have to repay college loans. I read it floating around “cyber space” but have since learned that they indeed, do have to pay the money back in most cases, if they did indeed get a college loan! Yet, it has also been uncovered via the “Family Affairs Report” done by C.R.E.W. (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) that there is tremendous nepotism in Congress. In other words, it has been discovered that congressional members literally hire their family members, including their own brothers and sisters, for catering events, advertising, conference planning and completion, and more financial opportunities. Congressional “children” who have college loans can in fact get jobs through the government that provide them with monies to pay back their college loans. In some cases, the position makes them exempt from having to pay back the monies due to their particular types of employment in a governmental agency. Correcting my error and shedding some more light on the subject.

Yes, it was 50 years ago today that Dr. King drew a crowd of over 250,000 people to Washington, D.C. to make his claims known to the nation what he felt was most pressing for these United States of America regarding civil rights. Even Mahatma Gandhi had stated that the world issue of injustice would probably be best exposed by “the Negro in America”. His strategy (Gandhi’s) of non-violent passive resistance in India against British colonial rule was embraced and duplicated by Dr. King in propelling the Civil Rights Movement forward in this country. Dr. King stated in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He actually wrote his own “State of the Union Address” from the jail in Birmingham because it was there that injustice was blatantly clear as evidenced by the segregationist policies of “the good ole South”.

In memory of Dr. King, may those of us who have the courage to embrace the fact that mistakes have been made in this country … “land of the free, home of the brave”, which was actually taken from the inhabitants already here … and maintain the values of honesty, truth and justice, and NOT judge a person by “the color of their skin but the content of their character”, to seek 50 more years of Dr. King’s “DREAM”! While there are Americans who complain about President Obama’s position and policies regarding different issues currently facing this country, there has been an ignorance of previous presidents’ positions and policies that took us into wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and struggles in the Middle East as well as domestic policies that allowed racism, lynching, and discrimination of the African American (and others!) in nearly every realm of life in America to prevail side by side with “democracy”. May we continue to challenge and charge America to live up to its creed of “liberty and justice for all”. “Live the dream”!

Be well!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Keep Moving Forward!!!

Keep Moving Forward

It’s Monday, All!

Yes, it is the day that kicks off many people’s work weeks!! What would you do if you didn’t have Monday to look forward to … to shake up things, to implement new ideas and new attitudes, if necessary? Would you stay in bed all week? Do you really have it like that? Do you think that is why your Creator GAVE you the gift of life … to mope and complain and wish you could do nothing all day? Of course not!!

Sometimes, when I visit social network pages and view comments and notice people saying that African Americans and/or other minorities are looking for entitlements and handouts, I almost laugh! I wonder if they notice the PROGRESS that these very same people have made … and continue to make? Would you say that Obama was “looking for a handout” or that he felt “entitled”? How about Dr. King – did he get his “hand out”?! I wonder when was the last time that these critics took a look at all of the “benefits” a member of Congress gets … just for serving one term … perhaps even “tweeting” naked pictures to someone while in office. Their kids get “free” college and they become people of a near celebrity status! What did their kids do to deserve “free college”? Is that not entitlement?! Now, I just mentioned ONE of the benefits they receive … their whole family … for becoming an “elected official”.

This past weekend witnessed the celebrations of the “50th Anniversary of the March on Washington”, which was headlined in 1963 by The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Have any of those “nay sayers” noticed the progress that has been made by … let’s say … African Americans!? How about Hispanics? How about “gays and lesbians”? Even the Pope has recently acknowledged that a “gay” person who believes in “God” can’t be all bad!! In fact, if you look closely, you will notice the “naysayers” of 50 years ago have not changed their tune …. just their tactics …. because it actually bothers them that so much progress has been made by many many different groups in American society. I am not here to judge; nor am I here to listen to the negativity espoused by the “naysayers”. How about you?

The program Saturday in Washington, DC, the original location of the March on Washington, was phenomenal!! I enjoyed it from the comfort of my home after having spent a morning recollecting thoughts, reflecting on positive moments and getting set to move forward. Do you have any idea of how many lives were lost – not to mention Dr. King himself! – in the struggle for Civil Rights of African Americans in this country?! Now don’t “get it twisted” as is often the technique of “ignorance” in the face of “progress”; I am not discounting ANY other group for the progress they’ve made in world events, like The Jews, if you will. And even for that “group”, more progress continues and the backlash to their progress continues, too! “Can’t we all get along?” It was paramount to see Sabryna Fulton there at the “March” as well as the signs carried so we will not forget slogans like, “Justice for Trayvon” and “No Justice, No Peace!”. Do you remember the comments of several of the jurors in the aftermath of that trial? Were they still so sure that they had made the “right decision”? Now, Zimmerman travels about and is still toting guns and visiting gun ranges, in particular, of the manufacturer of the weapon he used to murder Trayvon. One comment was: “Well, wouldn’t you expect him (Zimmerman) to be gun shopping considering how many people hate him in America?” Karma can be a “BEAST” baby! All he had to do was “keep calm and stay in his vehicle” … believe it … or not!

So in honor of ALL those folks, from the slaves “taken” from Africa and those thrown over board into the Atlantic Ocean, including the ones that “made it” to the shores of America and helped to build this country and its economy … and then were killed, lynched and tortured, and later discriminated against, right on up to and through the life of Dr. King and others … to ALL the people that rallied and marched and spoke and “showed up” to the commemoration of the original “March” held fifty years ago …. may we all recollect, reflect and continue moving forward … TOGETHER!

Amen,

John I. Cook, Director

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, DC

March on Washington

Happy Friday, All! And you know that!  T.G.I.F.!
Keeping it short and sweet today because there is not much else one can say in regards to the fact that this weekend, officially the 28th of August, commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, DC!
The lives of many Americans, in particular African Americans, have been changed by the events of the Civil Rights Movement culminating in this March on Washington.  We not only have an African American president serving his second term in the White House, but there have been many challenges to the post racial America ….
 While we have made much progress as a nation, there is still a lot of work that we need to do.  In honor of the anniversary of the March on Washington, DC, may we consider continuing moving FORWARD!  Keep Dr. King’s dream alive!
Peace,
John I. CookEmoji, Director

Image

Growing Pains

growing painsYes folks . . . It’s “Hump Day” again!

“Mike! Mike! Mike! What day is it?! It’s Hump Daaayyyy!”, said the camel in the office in the GEICO commercial. I absolutely adore this one. Not only does it make one smile, it kind of drives the point home – GEICO customers are happier than a camel on “hump day”! How are you all doing today? Did your week get off to a slow start? Monday past was hard to handle … but, “We Got This!”

Students are back to school in many places … A friend of mine informed me that Atlanta area schools opened two weeks ago. Here in Florida, most schools returned from summer vacation this past Monday. New York and points North usually begin around Labor Day, the first week of September. Now is the time when the youngsters experience some “growing pains”. I recall when I taught high school in New York, we also had like a mini-suicide watch program where everyone – students and teachers alike – kept their eyes open for youngsters with suicidal tendencies. Change, holidays, and “growing pains” in general have often been known to drive a person to turn on oneself. This generation, especially here in South Florida, seems to be more interested in toting guns … even on bicycles! … and doing “drive bys”! Where does this come from? Is our “society” so ill that some of its members are resorting to such behavior?

What ails individuals in society, according to much of my studies in Sociology, also ails society in general. Most people like to “blame the victim” because it is easier that way … one does NOT have to care about those who are not properly “socialized”. Cultures with extended families – like Native Americans or Oriental cultures – kept a tight social net around each individual in that society. This type of attitude and concept of the extended family has withered in most places and almost died in other cultures. It is “every person for oneself” nowadays. We can get caught up into that easily. One of the ideas that the Brahma Kumaris encourage is to “seek to be peaceful” at all costs at all times. Have you ever heard that notion before? Do you remember Gandhi? How about Martin Luther King, Jr.? Society’s ills are society’s responsibility. These two men sought to protest with “non-violence”. Were there some casualties?! Absolutely, as indicated by the Civil Rights Movement in this country! Yet, there has been a lot of progress made as this country experiences the second term of its first “official” African American president. There is more to come, should we embrace such progress.

Keep an eye out for your youngster … or other’s youngsters. Teach them to tell the truth! Things will be more easily communicated with that value at the core of our communications. You know, it is the little things that count. These first few days and weeks of school may mean the world to that average youngster who may not be so cute or so handsome, that youngster who may not be able to communicate so well with his or her peers, and in some cases may just be left out. In closing today’s message, I just want to give “props” to Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s (RIP) mother, who has just released a single with a Christian rapper, “T-Dog”, here in SoFlo, whose proceeds are going towards helping families who have lost a loved one due to “gun violence”. She says, “My journey is not scripted. This is just who I am … so it makes it easier!”

Is it easier to be “yourself”? Remind the youngsters that you come into contact as the new school year begins nationwide that it is okay for them to be who they are! Believe it … or not!

Have a great Hump Day and rest of the week!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

School’s In Session!

school's in session

Happy Monday, All!

Now, this isn’t just any old Monday … It is the first Monday of the school year 2013-2014! What do you make of that?! If you are a parent, and today is the first day for your youngster, you already know. In fact, I was on one social network where I saw a friend’s post that her daughter in high school was getting on the bus somewhere around 5:30am. That’s how they roll up in high school!! I think back fondly to the days when I taught at White Plains High School between 1979 and 1989 … I was always at my desk around 6:45am, getting ready for each new day and anticipating the arrival of the students. Slowly but surely, as the buses arrived, I could hear a low “roar” of bustling students entering the building, talking with classmates, greeting the waiting teacher aides and hall monitors, until …. “Good morning, Mr. Cook!”

There were numerous “Back To School”/”Book Bag and School Supply” programs and hand outs. The one I emceed for H.E.R.O. Saturday went very very well. The youngsters and their parents were generally well behaved though many of the younger kids were anxious and couldn’t wait to get their supplies as well as the book bags supplied by H.E.R.O. and author, C.J. Love. After I introduced her, C.J. spoke with the kids and their parents about what she experienced as a “survivor of child abuse”. Not only did she mention that her mother, who had had her out of wedlock, was unfit to raise her, but also left her abandoned on the “streets of Jamaica” at a very tender teen age. She survived it … not easily … but with determination to overcome those obstacles. C.J. Love now has a book called “Behind The Mask: Survivor of Child Abuse”, whose proceeds go to help “abused children”. She also has two or three grown children who did NOT suffer the same fate that she had faced in her formative years.

I also spoke, in addition to two other women educators here in Broward County, one a classroom teacher, and the other a district administrator who advised that the parents get to know their youngster’s teachers and school. In this “rush rush”, “who’s got the most money” world we live in, most parents do not have the time to get involved in things like the PTA (Parent-Teacher’s Associations) groups that were so common when and where I grew up in White Plains, NY. One of the speakers is also an instructor in Ms. Patricia Lesesne’s program, “Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders” out of Boyd H. Anderson High School in Fort Lauderdale. During my talk, I emphasized being hungry for knowledge of “new” things or unfamiliar things, like a foreign language or something in the computer science realm like programming. Most importantly, I encourage the youth to always keep in mind, “We Got This!” as well as my other slogan, “Stop The Violence”. Many of them understood our messages and seemed mentally geared up to meet the morning today. How about you and yours?

“Life is change . . . Growth is optional . . . Choose wisely . . .” – Karen Kaiser Clark

Have a great day and a wonderful week!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

“I Wish This Was A Dream . . .”

Catch A DreamHappy Friday, All …

Yes, I am going to venture to say … T.G.I.F. today! Another week has been gifted to each of us and we’ve had the opportunity to make the most of it. I’ve got a lot of things on “my plate” … this morning, tonight, tomorrow … even Sunday! Now I am grateful to be able to participate in ALL of these things, too, including the “Back To School” program sponsored by the AARLCC and H.E.R.O.

Have you ever had the feeling that something you had just experienced was a dream …. not reality? Then, on the other hand, have you ever dreamt something that you wished would have come true? Perhaps, by now, many of us have heard of the Native American Indian’s “dream catcher” and the legend behind it?! If you haven’t, do a little research. I guarantee you that you will find it quite intriguing. Native Americans, often called “Amerinds”, were generally spiritual beings. They had no clocks to mark time but utilized the natural order of things to mark time for their culture. Enter, “The Dream Catcher”, which in most cases consists of leather/suede strips and feathers.

A twelve year old girl was killed by a bullet from a spray of rapid fire as her grandmother’s home in Miami Gardens, FL was attacked a few nights ago. She was getting her hair braided for the start of the school year. This is a tradition in many African American homes so that the young ladies look really nice the first day of school. It seems a teen-aged cousin who was not in the home at the time may have been the target … I wish that was a dream … imagine that!

The Egyptian military has been accused of attacking civilians in their attempt to rid the capitol of protestors who opposed the ousting of the first democratically elected leader of that country. Hundreds of civilians were killed in the military’s effort to restore order there. The POTUS has issued a statement opposing the use of “deadly force” by the Egyptian military upon civilians who were protesting. Some stories have it that the protestors themselves had resorted to rock and bottle throwing as well as fire bombing buildings there in retaliation of the military show of force to disperse them. Do you think anyone wishes that was a dream?!

Well the group known as the “Dream Defenders” have left the state capitol of Florida and vacated Gov. Rick Scott’s office in their attempt to apply pressure on the Governor to hold an emergency session of state legislators to review, and if possible, suggest changes to, the Florida “stand your ground” law. Scott sticks to “his guns”, and, though the protesters remained in and around his office since Zimmerman was found “not guilty”, he has refused to comply with their demands. I know some of us may wish that was a dream. Thanks for your efforts of peaceful demonstration “Dream Defenders”.

In spite of all the earlier reports that big name talent was scheduled to boycott Florida due to the state’s maintenance of the aforementioned law, “Jay-Z” and Justin Timberlake will be taking South Florida by storm tonight at Sun Life Stadium as they complete the tour they began earlier this summer. It is expected to be a great turn out, and promoters speculate that the two together will bring admirers of each artist to appreciate the talents of “the other”.

Wishing you each a wonderful Friday, and a peaceful and progressive weekend.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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